California is one state that allows an injured worker to receive temporary total disability workers’ compensation benefits under certain circumstances. This is meant to be a substitute for lost wages. The benefit is a portion of the full amount of compensation that the worker was receiving at the time of the injury.

Calculating Benefits

Temporary total disability benefits amount to two-thirds of an injured employee’s weekly pay. Total benefits apply to workers who were employed full-time at the time of their injury. If an employee is injured while working part-time, that employee may be eligible for partial benefits. These benefits can include not only wages but also certain allowances such as a housing or transportation allowance if they are part of the employee’s compensation package. These benefits are temporary.

Injury Must Be Work-Related

To receive temporary disability workers’ compensation benefits, an employee’s injury must be work-related. That means that the employee must have been acting within the course and scope of their employment when sustaining the injury. If the injury occurs when an employee is doing something other than their job, the injury is not compensable. This is true even if the personal act giving rise to the injury took place at the workplace.

Restrictions and Considerations

To receive temporary total disability benefits, an employee must have a doctor’s report that states that the employee is either unable to work or may only work in a limited capacity. Then an employer must see if there is any modified work that an employee may do instead while recovering from their injury. If there is no available modified work, then an injured employee may receive temporary benefits.

Temporary Benefits End

Temporary benefits end when one of two things happens. They can end when an employee recovers from their injury and returns to work or when the employee’s condition stabilizes and some level of injury and disability becomes permanent. When the latter occurs, an employee may become eligible for some level of permanent disability benefits.

There is a maximum in temporary benefits that an injured worker may receive. California law provides a complex tiered structure to cap benefits. In part, the cap depends on when the injury was sustained and the type of injury involved. In some cases, the cap is 104 weeks, and in others, the cap is 240 weeks of benefits. In general, for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2008, the cap is 104 weeks within five years from the date of injury. If the injury occurred on or after April 19, 2004, and involves any of the following, the cap is extended to 240 weeks:

  • Acute and chronic hepatitis B or C;
  • Amputations;
  • Severe burns or chemical burns to the eyes;
  • HIV;
  • High-velocity eye injuries; or
  • Pulmonary fibrosis or chronic lung disease.

This is a highly technical area of the law and requires the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Make sure to consult with an Orange County workers’ compensation attorney throughout the claims process.